Life in a One Room School

Children entered Sunnyview through one of two exterior doors leading into gendered cloakrooms. As times changed, all children entered through the same door and one of the cloakrooms was converted to storage.

One teacher presented 20 class sessions throughout the day across all grade levels, with students free to listen to any of the presentations to catch up, stay current, or learn ahead. Each student was given lessons according to ability, regardless of age or grade level.

Not everything in the day was about lessons. There was work and play involved, too. Students were expected to haul drinking water, and get wood for the stove during winter. Softball and “Duck on a Rock” where favored by students in the warmer months, and snow brought the excitement of skiing and sledding.

Discipline was important, and students typically respected the expectations of their teacher. Though the Dunce Cap was seldom used, they might be sat in a corner or denied recess if they ran afoul of the rules. They could also be held after school, or even had their knuckles rapped with a ruler. Students could bet if they were disciplined at school, there would be punishment over it when they got home.

“The teacher didn’t have to send a note home or anything like that. Your brothers or sisters would tell on you. I remember telling my younger brother if she’s going to give you a spanking with a yardstick, stand close, it doesn’t hurt as much. Those were my words of wisdom I passed on.” - Sunnyview student (1946-1950)

A Community Center

The schoolhouse was often the center of neighborhood life in rural areas. From picnics to town meetings, 4-H Clubs to wedding receptions, the school offered a place for the community to gather.

Sunnyview often served as a touch point for government services. A county nurse stopped regularly to test the children’s eyesight, and give vaccinations. During WWII 91 people registered for War Ration coupons at Sunnyview in May of 1942. And, when there was too much snow to get the mail to individual houses the letter carrier left it at the school for pick-up.

From Then to Now

  • 1961

    WI state statutes requiring all elementary school districts to merge with high school districts by July 1, 1962, caused 24 districts to be consolidated into the Eau Claire School System. Sunnyview School is closed.

    County Superintendent Jeannie Weber and Supervising Teacher Olga Martin organize a “penny drive”. Area school children collect more than $1500 in pennies to move the school to a location where it could be preserved.

  • 1963

    Sunnyview School is moved to Carson Park in Eau Claire.

  • 1964

    A teachers’ in-service is held at Sunnyview.